Food & Drink

These 3 Italian Wines Offer Quality And Value

Given that there are more than 300 varietals planted today throughout Italy, it stands to reason that there are many wines that slip under the radar. Quite often these offerings are of notable quality, yet priced very reasonably, given the fact that the territories in which they originate are not famous.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of these wines available today on retail shelves or on wine lists (or poured by the glass) available in America at present. Here are a few excellent values – one red, one white, and one rosato from Italy worth remembering. (Note that I will not be including ratings or scores, as these are wines to enjoy tonight without worrying about how many points anyone awards them.)

Massimo Ronca Bardolino 2020 – Bardolino is a light to medium-bodied red from an area west of Verona in the Veneto region. Produced from the same grapes as Valpolicella and Amarone della Valpolicella (such as Corvina and Rondinella), Bardolino has generally taken a back seat to those other wines, as its image is one of immediate drinkability and not one to lay away for several years.

That’s fine with me, as I enjoy a well made Bardolino when I want a lighter red for dinner. That’s why I love this Massimo Ronca Bardolino from the 2020 vintage, a very successful year in this area. The wine offers flavors of strawberry and maraschino cherry, with good acidity and a clean, flavorful finish with very light tannins. This is not a wine you have to think about, rather you just drink it, and to make it even more enjoyable, give it a slight (15-20 minute) chill in the refrigerator, which gives the wine a more refreshing quality. Pair this with white meats or lighter salumi. Suggested retail – $14 (prices vary from state to stay depending on local taxes.)

Umani Ronchi Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore “Casal di Serra” 2019 – The name may be a bit long for some consumers, but all you need to know is Umani Ronchi and Verdicchio – this is a match made in heaven. Verdicchio is a dry white wine made from the eponymous grape and it is arguably the finest white in all of Italy. It’s certainly one of the longest-lived, as many examples still drink well at 15-20 years of age. Yet Verdicchio is highly enjoyable upon release with flavors of melon, pear and notes of chamomile and lime in the perfumes. Umani Ronchi produces several examples of Verdicchio each vintage; the Casal di Serra is my favorite year in and year out. The grapes are sourced from some of the best Verdicchio vineyards owned by the estate; the vines are between eight and thirty years of age. Medium-bodied with notable richness on the palate, backed by lively acidity to maintain structure and freshness, this is a classic Verdicchio from the outstanding 2019 vintage. Yes, the wine should drink well for at least another seven to ten years (and probably longer), but it is gorgeous enjoyed tonight with most seafood, white meats or vegetable risotto. ($18)

Li Veli Negroamaro Rosato “Primerose” 2020 – The region of Puglia in southeastern Italy has long been known for its flavorful, dry rosés (known as rosati, {plural of rosato} in Italian). These days, there are excellent rosés made from numerous varietals throughout Italy, but Puglia remains a focal point for rosati.

Li Veli produces two excellent examples; one made from the rarely seen Susumaniello grape and the other known as “Primerose,” produced from the Negroamaro varietal. Both are recommended – I slightly prefer the latter from the 2020 vintage. Offering appealing aromas of mandarin orange and pink roses, with flavors of currant and strawberry on the palate, this is medium-full with a dry, clean, lengthy finish. This would be ideal paired with tuna or roast chicken; enjoy this over the next one to two years. ($15)


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